Tag Archives: Valley College

Student rides Omnitrans to pursue her dream

Student at the San Bernardino Transit Center

Twenty-one year old Darlene is a long-time Omnitrans rider attending her first semester at Valley College, where she studies criminal justice.

“I’d like to be a probation officer for juveniles,” she explains with a smile. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Because they’re young, you have a chance to help them turn their lives around. Growing up, I’ve seen friends go through this. They tell me they basically check in and go on their way. The probation officer is always on them, but there’s no attempt to gain their trust and get them to open up. There’s no heart-to-heart relationship where they can talk to them about whatever’s going on. There are reasons why people are the way they are, why they’re at where they’re at. If you can dig down deep enough to get to that, you have a chance to help them change.”

Darlene has also thought about going into social work because of her own life history.

“I was raised by my grandmother until I was 5, and she couldn’t do it anymore. My aunt and uncle adopted me and took me in. They also adopted several of my cousins. Whenever a family member faced hard times and couldn’t take care of the kids, they would take them in. There were about eight of us all together. We were all cousins, but we became brothers and sisters.  And our aunt and uncle are now our mom and dad. The experience has made such a huge difference in my life, that I think I  might like to help place other children in homes.”

Darlene’s adoptive dad is a construction supervisor for San Bernardino County and a pastor at a local church, and her adoptive mom is a stay-at-home mom. They were very loving parents, but they also held the kids to strict rules.

“They raised us to have goals in life,” Darlene explains. “I see a lot of parents who just let their kids do whatever they want. Our dad was strict. We weren’t allowed to have a phone or date until we were eighteen.

Student at the customer service window at the San Bernardino Transit Center

“It was so strict but it gave us a good foundation and taught us to be responsible. Even with money. When we started working, our parents had us contribute towards rent.  I would pay $50 to my mom and $50 to my dad and $100 into savings.  It taught us how to portion our money and put aside a savings. My sisters and brothers were able to get cars because of their savings. It’s funny because they didn’t even realize how much money they had. They got so used to putting aside money that six months later they were surprised to find that they had actually saved enough to buy a car.

“My dad didn’t allow us to get jobs until we were 18. He believes that you can’t really focus on school and work a job at the same time. At seventeen we were begging him to let us get a job so we could have spending money, but he said no. He said, ‘I‘ll get you whatever you need or really want. But I want you to concentrate on school until you graduate.’ So that’s what we did.”

Darlene says simply, “They raised us to learn everything, so that when we went out on our own we would be prepared to be successful and not struggle.”

She is now 21 and living in San Bernardino with her birth father while she attends community college. As a Valley College student, Darlene takes advantage of the Omnitrans Go Smart program which allows her to ride free with her college ID.

“I chose Valley College because it’s the closest one to me. When I registered, the lady who gave me my ID told me it was a bus pass as well, which makes it pretty convenient to get around. Mostly I’m traveling between home and school, but I also take the Freeway Express to visit my mom and dad in Montclair.  I like it a lot. It’s really fast and only takes about 30 minutes to get there. I used to have to take Route 15 then 16, but this one goes straight through. I like the free Wi-Fi too!”

Darlene adds, “I also love the new San Bernardino Transit Center. It’s so much better than 4th Street, and I can use the bathroom or get a drink of water. I’m here practically all the time. My dad drives, but if I can get a free ride, I might as well. Especially since the stop is so close to my house. I would like to have a car eventually but it’s really expensive. You pay a lot for insurance and upkeep. For now I’m fine with riding the bus.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson

Omnitrans helps introduce students to higher education

students aboard the Omnitrans  sbX rapid transit bus

On March 6th, the San Bernardino School District, in partnership with the City of San Bernardino, led a “Path to Success” field trip designed to excite junior high students about local options in higher education.  Six hundred students from Richardson, Shandin Hills, Rodriguez, and King Middle Schools participated in the event.


The Art Institute, Valley College and Cal State University provided free campus tours and presentations. These three schools are also participants in the Omnitrans GoSmart program, which offers students unlimited free bus rides with their student IDs. Funding for the discounted fare program comes from student fees and administrative sources.


Omnitrans sponsored transportation for students between institutions on city buses and its sbX rapid transit service. Representatives from the bus agency were on hand to assist each group in navigating their route.  sbX was a particular hit with the teens who loved the free Wi-Fi and immediately took advantage of the power outlets to charge their phones.


“It was a very successful event,” says Omnitrans Marketing Manager Nicole Ramos. “In addition to firsthand campus experience, it gave us the opportunity to introduce many students to public transit for the first time and teach them a few travel basics. With rising tuition costs and limited family transportation, we’re finding that more and more students are relying the GoSmart program to make it viable for them to pursue higher education.”



Schools, non-profits eager for sbX service

Robert Hagen, Director of Volunteer Services with Santa Claus, Inc. of Greater San Bernardino, also is a teacher with the WORC Academy, a partnership between San Bernardino Valley College and the San Bernardino City Unified School District, providing basic skills to help high school grads enter the workforce.

Robert Hagen arrives early Wednesday morning at Santa Claus Inc. of Greater San Bernardino, a non-profit charity providing clothes, books and toys for needy children, where he volunteers as Director of Volunteer Services.

Hagen – also a teacher at the WORC Academy (Working on Real Careers) at Valley College – knows his students will arrive for their assignments at the charity on 6th Street about a mile east of Waterman Avenue. He’s just not sure when.

“If it weren’t for Omnitrans, I don’t know how they would get around,” Hagen said. “They’re looking forward to the rapid-transit service.”

This semester, Hagen works with 12 students who have graduated from high school but are challenged in reading, writing and math. The WORC program, a partnership between Valley College and the San Bernardino City Unified School District, allows them to develop skills that make them hirable to do many of the basic tasks they learn as volunteers.

Most of his students live in the Highland area and public transit is the only transportation they have to get from there to the college on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. They also rely on bus service to get to the non-profit programs – usually on Wednesdays and Fridays – such as Santa Claus Inc., on 6th Street about a mile east of Waterman Avenue; and the San Bernardino Humane Society, near E Street and Orange Show Road.

“My students can walk from Valley College to the Humane Society in less time than it takes to ride the bus,” Hagen said. “There are many organizations they could work for up and down Route 2 but it takes more than an hour to get from the VA to Cal State (San Bernardino). That’s why we’re so excited about this sbX line. It will sure make it easier for them to get around.”

– David Rutherford

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